The new discretionary ‘top-up’ fund caters for small businesses with ongoing fixed property costs. The kinds of businesses that may now qualify for help include those in shared workspace offices, regular market traders and small charities, along with bed and breakfasts that pay council tax rather than business rates.
To receive the grants businesses must have fewer than 50 employees and be able to show a significant drop in income due to coronavirus restriction measures.
The maximum grant size will be £25,000, with an option for £10,000 or other payments depending on local circumstances, the Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy said.
Local authorities will have full discretion to allocate funds and make payments to other businesses not specifically mentioned in guidance if need be.
The small business grant regime is designed to supplement the 12-month business rates holiday announced by the Chancellor in his March “coronavirus” Budget. The holiday applies to all businesses that pay rates while the small business grants are intended to support businesses that do not pay rates. In addition, the government added a couple of extra funding options for local councils to administer:
- Small Business Grant Fund (SBGF) – £10,000 available to firms that qualify for the small business rate relief scheme or rural rate relief scheme, in properties with a rateable value of less than £15,000.
- Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant (RHLG) – £10,000 grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with a rateable value of up to £15,000; those with property valuations between £15,000 and £51,000 will be eligible for £25,000.
While recipients can just sit back and wait for the existing support grants to arrive, the discretionary nature of the new funds makes it more likely that advisers to firms struggling without any previous help may need to contact local councils to advance their case to get one of the new top-up grants.